What’s a Fashion Week Without Fashion Shows? In London, We’re About to Find Out

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Forget fashion shows—the majority of designers in London don’t have collections to show, for reasons we all know. So why then will there be a London Fashion Week (more strictly, a Weeklet) from June 12 to June 14? And what will it look like?

Cue Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion council: “we decided quite quickly to move the menswear week in June to a gender-neutral digital platform, and already we very much expected that designers might not have any collections to show. However we felt this is such a unique time, and that there are stories to be told about this period, and that there would be opportunity for debate about what it means for the industry as we move ahead.”

Several designers on the London calendar have indeed managed to fashion spring 2021 menswear collections, while others have created collections that are, through their means of production, an interrogation of values both human and ecological. These will drop here on Runway over the next few days.

Over at londonfashionweek.co.uk the BFC has built a website that one of its executives recently described as a “fashion Netflix.” Following the three day schedule announced yesterday, designers will present content based mostly on rhetoric or images, rather than clothes. Potential highlights include Saturday morning’s live discussion with Bianca Saunders (who has produced a zine with Josh Woods); Fashion East alum Robyn Lynch’s film about a cool collaborative capsule collection; a Nicholas Daley film about his last-season collection, and a film about the making of Stephen Jones spring 21 miscellany of millinery. The word is that Ahluwalia has rustled up a fantastic concept around her new book, while Natasha Zinko has partnered with The Webster to present a collection rendered digitally in 3D.

What else is going on at London Fashion Week? Well, a gallery of over 100 London designers will be included in a newly activated profile hub, which is designed to draw both new potential customers and the eyes of buyers. As Rush observed: “For the designers to be able to reach consumer audiences as well as trade audiences is very important. The amount of product that remains in warehouses, workshops, and on the shop floors of stores that have been closed is a very significant issue that the industry is going to have to face.”

There will also be plenty of debate, not all of it confined to fashion. British Vogue’s EIC Edward Enninful will be in conversation with the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to discuss this year’s global outcry against systemic racism and consider how any recovery from COVID-19 can unfold hand in hand with actions to heal social prejudice and inequality.

Unusually and interestingly, retailers—the reason fashion weeks exist—are not only in the audience but also generating content in this transitional and experimental LFW format. GR8 (Japan), Galeries Lafayette (France), Joyce (China), and JD.Com (China) will all deliver their perspectives on London’s fashion output while Bergdorf Goodman’s Bruce Pask is taking to YouTube to present his angle on five British brands.

So strap yourself in for what is going to be a unique experiment in the history of fashion’s seasonal cycle, and let’s see what happens. As Patrick Grant of E. Tautz put it: “fashion is a cultural bellwether and it’s going to be interesting to see how people present, with or without clothing.”

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